The Marking of 26th January

The marking of 26th of January has been considered to be important by most Australians in Australia’s post- European settlement history. It has changed over time, starting as a celebration for emancipated convicts and evolving into what is now a celebration of Australia that reflects the nation’s diverse people.

However, January 26th, the date of arrival of the first fleet of European settlers, is regarded by the majority of First Australians as an inappropriate date for celebration. Many First Nations peoples of Australia view 26th January as a provocative date and for myself as a descendant of the First Peoples of this country it triggers the words and meanings of sovereignty, terra nullius and privilege. This is why many First Australians call 26th January Survival day or Invasion Day. Invasion Day for many First Peoples of this country it recognises that their sovereignty was never ceded, terra nullius was false, and systematic racism created privilege for non-First Nation people of Australia. The date is also considered a reminder of what my ancestors had to endure during different and arrogant government policies of assimilation.

Some Australians say “it’s just a date” or “it was years ago”
The First People of this country are simply asked to “get over it”.

For me and many other First Australians it is difficult to just get over it because the date persistently reminds me about the massacre sites that continue to be registered in Australia by non-indigenous archaeologists. It is  difficult for me “to just get over it” as I continually hear the voices of mainstream media in Australia to remember the ANZACS’s “Lest we forget” and knowing that my people could only serve in wars as honorary whites and were not given any privileges when they returned home. It is difficult for me knowing that I am still learning my language because my elders were not allowed to speak it or they would be incarcerated or beaten.

It is difficult for me to get over it when I know that we only make up 3% of the Australian population yet we are at the top of every indicator of disadvantage. And it is difficult for me knowing that we are the only Indigenous people’s impacted by the Western World and still don’t have a treaty “Makarrata” with our Federal Government.

For the sake of our next generations and as Australians, surely we are all ready to simply ”come together” accept and include my peoples “The First Australians” – our histories, our cultures and our contributions – as a valued part of the Australian story and showcase this to the World with respect and togetherness. I am sure we all know that white Australia has a black history.

Denice Kickett (nee Wilkes/Wilak) Muminbulah Wilak (Spirit of the Land)Whadjuk Yorgah Nyoongar Nation (1000+Generation to this country)
Denice Kickett Key Assets Cultural Practice Lead (Victoria) Whadjuk Yorgah – Nyoongar Nation